At the heart of the city of Aksum in Ethiopia stands a small chapel, whose entrance is constantly guarded. Ethiopians believe that this chapel contains the Ark of the Covenant; their religious epic "The Glory of Kings" gives an account of how Makeda, the Queen of Sheba had a son by Solomon and how it was this son who removed the Ark from Jerusalem because of the disobedience of the people of Israel. Stuart Munro-Hay began excavating at Aksum in 1974, but his work was interrupted by the revolution. He did, however, make many valuable friendships in the city and learnt to speak the language of the guards, a combination that has led him to become recognised as the premier Aksumite historian. Together with Roderick Grierson, a semiotic philologist, he investigated the ancient mystery to try and determine what the Ark was, if it could have been carried to Ethiopia, and, if it was not at Aksum, what is being guarded in the chapel.
Roderick Grierson is a Fellow of the Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University and Stuart Munro-Hay is Visiting Professor at the University of Berlin.